There is a global problem. Beef has the solution but we lack the vision, leadership and strength to present it and own it.
There is broad global consensus that the earth has a climate problem, that climate change exists and that we as a community must prioritize the allocation of resources to reduce it.
Regardless of whether you believe in this statement, beef has the solution but we are currently occupied debating between seeing sustainability as a risk or an opportunity.
When a challenge presents itself, such as the banking and finance industry engaging in the debate, imposing a requirement for large emitters to manage and offset emissions, potentially creating a market for environmental offsets produced by grass fed beef producers, we fall back to the first principle of rural advocacy: outrage, scream red tape, poor farmer and fair go.
This is not advancing sustainable agriculture, this is missing critical opportunities. Every opportunity is seen as a risk, we don't act and every risk becomes regulation.
On the other side of this debate, NGOs are presenting misguided but well-meaning solutions, broadly, in as many ears as will listen.
We need to respect and learn from them, work as hard as they do and give them the benefit of the presumption that they are trying to make the world a better place.
Consumers, NGOs and global food brands lack an understanding of what we do, how we go about it and why we are the solution.
This is not their problem, it is ours. We must own it, look inward and have the vision to fix it.
The current incentives for carbon offsets have the potential to be disastrous for our ecosystems.
To quote famous investor and thinker Charlie Munger, "You show me the incentive, I'll show you the outcome".
The current environmental offsets seek to dangerously measure our environment on one metric, carbon.
Beef has the capacity to present an environmental offset beyond just carbon.
An offset that measures a healthy ecosystem through biodiversity, maintenance of tree grass balance and ground cover.
That does not involve locking up mulga lands of limited ecological value and depriving rural and remote communities of prosperity, because it is the easy thing to do.
The environmental and biodiversity credit created through productive agriculture should be a valued commodity for global businesses wanting to tell consumers they care about the environment.
The environmental gains will be in our most threatened ecosystems and most valuable food production regions.
This is not about putting red tape across the whole of industry, this is about giving forward-thinking producers the ability to stand up and create new revenue streams, feedback loops for our environmental benefits and ecosystems to continue to be enhanced.
Demonstrating the beef solution and making the humble cow as celebrated as it should be. Our government, advocacy groups and service providers owe producers a market-based solution, and it is time to deliver.
We need industry leadership with the vision to create an environment for beef producers to thrive in.
And then get out of the way.
- Mark Davie, central Queensland cattleman and food producer